Introducing #Uchaguzi2017 Bot

Get to Know your candidates for the 2017 Kenyan Election

A voter identifying themselves (Photo Credit — Brookings Institute)

As Kenya gets ready for its most contested election in its young history, we at Ongair, and one of our friends, were thinking of a way to make discovery of the candidates a bit easier for those who are researching who to vote for. Here’s why:

Every voter will have 6 positions to vote for: President, Governor, Senator, County Woman Representative, Member of National Assembly and County Ward Representative. There are 14,522 nominees (excluding running mates) seeking electoral office. Many voters will encounter some of these names on the ballot paper on the day itself. The Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) posted the Gazetted list of candidates on their website, in PDF — It’s 438 pages long and 119Mb in size.

We saw an opportunity to create a conversational way to digest all this information, in a simple way that would be familiar to Kenyans. Just ask, “Who’s is running for Governor in Nairobi?” or even “Kisii Women Reps” — to get the list of County Woman Representative Candidates in Kisii county.

UchaguziBot is currently only available on Telegram. We’ll be releasing a Facebook Messenger bot shortly. We would have loved to be able to do this on WhatsApp. It is by far the largest social platform in Kenya with over 12M active users, but they have no API to make this possible.

Special shout out to IEBC for the original source data on candidates & Benedict Omare (for converting the PDFs into CSVs and cleaning up the data).

#ElectionsKE